“Popular media” in my opinion, is what’s shown on free-to-air programs that create discussion or interest amongst the public because it’s new, thus the new television program “GoggleBox”. This also fits the mediated public sphere category, as the show takes ‘ordinary’ viewers to comment on television shows. These expressions of opinion are then filmed to make the show.
Executive producer David McDonald says “”There’s an assumption that the show is about criticising shows and tearing them apart, but that’s not it at all, it has a lot of heart and warmth, Nor is it about polarising the audience at home with outrageous commentaries, regrettable slips of the tongue or dysfunctional relationships. That’s not the sphere where we exist, that’s not the heart of the show” As well as this, the cast of the show is claimed to be different to other TV shows as they have no reason to be broadcast, which apparently seems to connect and appeal to the ordinary viewer.
Yet in an almost accidental way, Gogglebox taps into the culture of modern TV and its consumption. It is, says McDonald, another version of the now-defunct watercooler conversation, which has fragmented, sped up and migrated from the workplace and coffee shop to Twitter and social media. Even though few of us gather around TV at an appointed time to watch a show on a single screen these days, it’s another version of interacting with and commenting upon TV.
This is an example of the way people are getting their share of debate and opinion about a popular text (such as television viewing). Yet somehow it seems to take away the whole point of having an original opinion. By watching a family or group of people give their opinions of a particular show, you’re perhaps making your conclusions from this without being able to interact and form discussion with the cast. The content of what they’re viewing is also mediated and controlled by the producers, as well as the cast itself and what is being said. The talk generated from the show is often not even about the content the cast viewed, it’s what was said and how it was conveyed in a humorous way that gets people talking, which asks, is the only way your opinion is given exposure influenced in the way you can appeal to others as funny or politically incorrect?
McDonald likens the “cast” to well-crafted sitcom characters; “most of their jokes and humour and pathos stems from their character. They’re not trying to be smart-arses, they’re just who they are and that’s what makes them funny.
Gogglebox could very well contribute to mediated public sphere’s as the people cast are claimed to be “regular” people giving reactions to specific programs, yet some issues relate back to the producers and how much control they have in the way only specific opinions and content is available for discussion. The public is basically given no opportunity to rebut or disagree with the show. Yet the cast is basically free to say what they like, given, when it’s their moment on air.